PENELOPE

Joseph Fasano

They say you can save

your own life with what you make.


They say this, Telemachus.


Each night

I take the loom apart

in darkness, but not

because I need him


in these gardens—only

because I know now 

what the doomed know: 

we are only as sacred as what unmakes us.


Say his name

when you go to bed, Telemachus.

Then leave me, let me


say this to your father:


Child—you are

a child, aren’t you—

I walk now

by these dark and hardened waters


and I pity you

the last days of your voyage.


For surely

you have long ago discovered it, 


long ago

though the wind lives

to afflict you, long ago


though the dark

is every harbor, long ago


though you’ve broken

far from home.


Listen.  Listen.  Listen:


there are the wild things

the sirens sing

to take us


and the burning things

the Circes dream

to keep us


and the little hymn

the living live

with the living


where to go to what you are is not to go.


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Joseph Fasano is a poet, novelist, and songwriter.  His novels include The Swallows of Lunetto (forthcoming from Maudlin House, 2022) and The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing (Platypus Press, 2020), which was named one of the "20 Best Small Press Books of 2020."  His books of poetry include The Crossing (2018), Vincent (2015), Inheritance (2014), and Fugue for Other Hands (2013).  His honors include The Cider Press Review Book Award, the Rattle Poetry Prize,, inclusion in the Forward Book of Poetry, and a nomination for the Poets' Prize, "awarded annually for the best book of verse published by a living American poet two years prior to the award year."  His writing has been translated into Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Spanish, Chinese, Swedish, and other languages.  He serves on the Editorial Board of Alice James Books and as the Founder and Curator of the Poem for You Series.  He is currently writing a "living poem" for his son and posting it on Twitter at @stars_poem.